Meet Dr Lindi Murray and Dr Ilana Johnson, our COSMO gynae gurus. Together, these clued-up ladies own Lila, an ob/gyn clinic in Cape Town, and are affiliated with Origin Maternity Hospital. They’re here to answer all your lady-parts questions.
I live on a serious budget and have no medical aid – what are the must-do gynae check-ups annually, and how can I reduce costs on these?
Good question! Every woman needs to have regular Pap smears and ensure they are fully informed about contraceptive choices and sexual health, including HIV and STI testing. If your budget is tight, this can be done at most GPs instead of paying for a specialist, and may be free at your local clinic. If you’re sexually active, it’s ideal to go for a Pap smear at least every two years. STI testing should be done before each new sexual partner.
If you have any concerning medical or family history or worrying symptoms like odd lumps and bumps, pain or increased discharge, it’s important to visit your gynae who can then advise on whether further tests or more regular check-ups are necessary.
When I put a tampon in, I’ve notice tiny little lumps in my vulva – the external area before I push a tampon in. Should I be worried?
Some lumps and bumps may be normal and you may be feeling the remnants of the hymen or the natural folds (rugae) of the vaginal wall, which are what allow the vagina to stretch during sex and child birth. However, if you’re concerned, it is advisable to seek medical attention. Some of the more common causes of abnormal lumps include infected hair follicles, blocked glands, skin irritation or, sometimes, an STI such as herpes or HPV. Rarely, a lump may represent a growth, so it’s always best to have anything suspicious checked out.
I really struggle to get wet enough for sex, even though I feel turned on. I find it so embarrassing to pull out lube when we’re in the moment but if I don’t, sex is painful. What can I do?
In most cases, dryness during sex can be remedied by more foreplay. However, if arousal is not the problem, then there may be other reasons why you are dry. These include your contraceptive choices, breast-feeding, stress, certain medications or menopause. If dryness is affecting your sex life, then visit your gynae for advice, who may be able to offer longer-term solutions compared to using lube. That said, lube is very helpful and can be great fun – why not try to incoporate it into foreplay so it doesn’t have to feel awkward or like it kills the mood? Your partner may love playing with you with the added slippery texture of lubricant.